The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared the substituted candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Kogi State governorship election, Mr Yahaya Bello, winner of the election.
Bello, who was substitute to late Mr Abubakar Audu, defeated the incumbent Governor, Captain Idris Wada, of the Peoples’ Democratic Party who was seeking a second term in office.
Declaring the results of the historic election, which was concluded, with a supplementary election held on December 5, the Returning Officer of the electoral body, Professor Emmanuel Kucha, said the APC’s candidate polled 247,752 to defeat Captain Wada who got 204,877 votes.
Collation of the supplementary election results started late Saturday night, with the official of the electoral body giving a breakdown of results from the earlier election held on November 21.
After that election, the electoral body declared the election inconclusive and fixed a supplementary election for December 5.
After election results from the 21 local government areas were collated on Sunday, November 22, the candidate of the APC, late Audu, was leading while the incumbent Governor, Captain Idris Wada of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) trailed by a margin less than the number of cancelled votes.
The candidate of the APC had 240,867 votes while that of the PDP polled 199,514 votes.
But the election was declared inconclusive by the INEC, which said canceled 49,953 votes were higher than the margin between the leading candidate and the runner-up.
After the supplementary election of December 5, the APC’s candidate got additional 6,885 while the PDP candidate polled 5,363.
The substitution of the late candidate of the APC had triggered divergent views, as to what the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act proscribe, when the death of a candidate occurs during an electoral process.
Most arguments have focused on section 33 of the Electoral Act.
It reads: “No political party shall be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose name has been submitted pursuant to section 31 of the Act, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidate”.
Aggrieved by the statement of the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami’s, that was legal for the APC to substitute the late candidate, Captain Wada approached a court, questioning the substitution and the power of the INEC to hold the supplementary election. He also requested that he should be declared the winner of the election, since the leading candidate had died.
But the court dismissed the case, saying it lacked jurisdiction. The Federal High Court Abuja further stressed that issues relating to election could only be adjudicated by the Election Petition Tribunal.
The Kogi election is considered historic, as it is the first election that a party will substitute their candidate in the middle of the process.